This fifth and final volume of Joseph Frank's justly celebrated literary and cultural biography of Dostoevsky renders with a rare intelligence and grace the last decade of the writer's life, the years in which he wrote A Raw Youth, Diary of a Writer, and his crowning triumph: The Brothers Karamazov.
Dostoevsky's final years at last won him the universal approval toward which he had always aspired. While describing his idiosyncratic relationship to the Russian state, Frank also details Doestoevsky's continuing rivalries with Turgenev and Tolstoy. Dostoevsky's appearance at the Pushkin Festival in June 1880, which preceded his death by one year, marked the apotheosis of his career--and of his life as a spokesman for the Russian spirit. There he delivered his famous speech on Pushkin before an audience stirred to a feverish emotional pitch: "Ours is universality attained not by the sword, but by the force of brotherhood and of our brotherly striving toward the reunification of mankind." This is the Dostoevsky who has entered the patrimony of world literature, though he was not always capable of living up to such exalted ideals.
The writer's death in St. Petersburg in January of 1881 concludes this unparalleled literary biography--one truly worthy of Dostoevsky's genius and of the remarkable time and place in which he lived.
"Frank's work is . . . unrivaled in what it sets out to do and in the remarkable degree to which it succeeds in doing it. It is unquestionably the fullest, most nuanced and evenhanded--not to mention the most informative--account of its subject in any language, and it has significantly changed our understanding of both the man and his work."--Donald Fanger, Los Angeles Times
"A monumental achievement. . . This is not a literary biography in the usual sense of the term. . . . It is, rather, an exhaustive history of Dostoyevsky's mind, an encyclopedic account of the author as major novelist and thinker, essayist and editor, journalist and polemicist. . . . Wrought with tireless love and boundless ingenuity, it . . . [is] a multifaceted tribute from an erudite and penetrating cultural critic to one of the great masters of 19th century fiction."--Michael Scammell, The New York Times Book Review
"[Frank] has created a dramatic unity out of Dostoevsky's chaotic life and art. . . . [His] work will surely remain the classic study of Dostoevsky the anti-utopian humanist."--Aileen Kelly, New York Review of Books
"Everything about this ambitious enterprise is splendid--its intellectual seriousness, its command of the Russian setting and sources, its modesty of tone, its warm feeling. . . . Frank is clearly on the way toward composing one of the great literary biographies of the age."--Irving Howe, New York Times Book Review
"In his aim of elucidating the setting within which Dostoevsky wrote--personal on the one hand, social, historical, cultural, literary, and philosophical on the other--Frank has succeeded triumphantly."--J. M. Coetzee, New York Review of Books
Table of Contents
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